My Superbowl hangover

Three hands spelling out the letters A S and L

It is the Tuesday after the “big game” as I write this article. My annual headache is back. I don’t drink.

Year after year I get aggravated beyond believe because the Superbowl producers give you a few seconds (if that) of the sign language performance of the national anthem and God Bless America. This New York Times article, by Christine Sun Kim (the woman who did the Sign Language interpretation for Superbowl LIV in 2020) pretty much says it all.

Screen shot of Asian woman signing NYT article “I performed at the Super Bowl. You might have missed me” by Christine Sun Kim

Why the everloving heck can’t the people producing the Superbowl do one of the following things:

  1. Put the performers together to get a good shot of both of them together
  2. Do picture-in-picture like they were doing 30 years ago for live news shows that had ASL interpreters, before captioning existed?

But wait, there’s more

Domino’s has run Superbowl ads in the past (both 2018 and 2019, though not this year). Those ads plus production costs probably came to close to $9 million in total spend. Domino’s admitted in their lawsuit that it would cost them $38,000 to make their website and mobile app accessible, something they are STILL fighting despite the Supreme Court having recently declared “Sorry Domino’s, the 9th circuit got it right on this one”.

We are more than three months out from the Supreme Court rejecting Domino’s appeal, and it STILL only takes two keystrokes to get locked up on Domino’s site. Keyboard accessibility is the underlying foundation for all accessibility — without it, you cannot possibly make your app/website work for people who can’t use mice, which means:

  • people with temporary or permanent injuries to their finger/ wrist/ arm/ shoulder
  • people with arthritis, or any other form of hand control mobility issues (Parkinson’s, Cerebral Palsy, ALS, quadriplegia)
  • people who can’t use a mouse due to vision loss

That’s a whole lot of people to intentionally leave out of your potential customer base. Not to mention their friends and family who BELIEVE ME they WILL (and have) complained to. I have made it painfully clear to every member of my family + friends that they will be disowned if caught ordering from Domino’s.

What about closed captioning?

Four advertisers spent $6 million minimum this year for production and ads that they did’t bother captioning. The captioning probably would have cost them an additional $5, maybe $10 if they went with an expensive captioning agency. So these organizations saved the price of one or two fancy coffees in a budget of $6 million and deliberately left out a significant chunk of their potential audience?

On the opposite side of the issue, Hyundai is getting vast quantities of FREE extra media publicity for their hysterical phonetic captions of Boston accents.

We’re out there. There are a lot of us. We vote with our pocketbooks, tell our family and friends when we feel we’ve been ignored, and you will never ever hear from 91 % of us that you made us feel unwelcome. But your more accessible competitors will know, because we will add to THEIR bottom line.

Full ASL version of the anthem. Well worth watching.

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